Wednesday, November 14, 2012

All in the (Kapoor) Family?

As the Kapoor case continues and deepens, I'd like to quickly share two new news articles just released on the 11th in The Hindu (here and here), as they raise some important questions and reveal more important information about goings on, especially from 2008-2011. Paul Barford weighs in here. Both primarily concern allegations currently under investigation that imply that Kapoor's daughter, son and brother (allegedly directly implicated by Kapoor), as well as his father, are all tied to the smuggling ring. Both articles suggest again that the numerous charitable (tax-deductible?) donations Kapoor (and most likely his brother) made to museums were designed to curry favor AND most likely move pieces known to be "hot."

Having already had one shipment seized in 2007, and being on record in the US as being aware of relevant cultural property laws, further evidence is surfacing that suggests he continued to acquire new recently surfaced pieces from 2008 onwards, perhaps right up until his arrest by Interpol. Also pertinent is further revelation of the role of one Asokan, Kapoor's alleged primary middle-man in Tamil Nadu. Besides allegedly holding meetings with Kapoor in posh hotels across India during the height of the smuggling operation and coordinating most temple thefts via robbery and bribery, it is now known that Asokan and his associates were not always successful in exporting their acquisitions.

Previous reports have already begun to reveal the market prices some of these pieces taken from his warehouse could have fetched if sold; many staggeringly high. This latest Hindu article has begun to release prices for some of the pieces from the Art of the Past gallery itself; also substantial. It is especially intriguing for me to now have another source suggest that the smuggling network extended to Pakistan and Southeast Asia, including at least a few Gandharan pieces (in light of the recent Pakistan-internal smuggling and forgery cases) Examples of these can allegedly be seen above left, but their authenticity and exact collecting history is not yet confirmed.

I'll close this update with one final observation: As the investigation and preparation for trial by US authorities continues, it is interesting to know that repatriation claims have begun on at least four pieces. It is my hope that those pieces now residing in museums far and wide, with clear Kapoor association, can be returned with as little legal red-tape as possible...once, and if, the completed investigation confirms all hypotheses beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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